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Paso Robles school district holds an anti-vaping meeting to educate parents on its dangers

Posted at 11:25 PM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 02:25:49-04

It's something all parents with school aged kids should hear, the Paso Robles Unified School District held a forum Wednesday to educate parents on the dangers of vaping.

This meeting has been in the works for two months, and the Paso school board brought a panel together including a doctor, the mayor, and principals.

It was clear that vaping is a high priority for the district and parents, as this epidemic affects students locally.

From board presentations, social media posts, and a tip line for students to report vaping, district officials are working to put an end to student vaping.

Parents who showed up to the meeting were concerned, had questions, and wanted to see something done to help as schools in the area have seen a major increase in e-cigarette use among students.

"We have triple the offenses in ed code violations related to substance abuse, over the last three years so it is a problem in our county, and in our nation" said Jennifer Gaviola, deputy superintendent, Paso Robles Unified School District.

Justin Davis, a doctor in Paso Robles, says at first he advised vaping to his patients who had been smoking cigarettes, but he realizes the health concerns when it comes to teen vaping.

"Most of the cartridges, most of the e-liquids that they find in actual marketing stores are not that bad. The ones that are dangerous are the ones that are found on the black market, the ones that are found on the street corners and unfortunately with children not being able to buy it from the other places, which they shouldn't be able to do anyway, they're buying it from those sources," said Davis.

During the meeting, a California survey was shown to parents reporting that 50% of high school students have tried a tobacco product, and 77% of high school students said it's easy to get their hands on.

Paso's school district was awarded a California grant for over $300,000 to stop the sales and marketing of vaping products to children.

"A primary reason we were able to get the grant isn't just that we thought we had a problem, we had to say we do have a problem. We have kids going from school in ambulances to the emergency room because of being in shook, literally from vaping," said Curt Dubost, superintendent, Paso Robles Unified School District.

The fruity flavors and the fact that vapes look like a USB drive or highlighter are big concerns for Davis, but he says it's important to tackle this issue now.

"Kids that vape are four times more likely to actually go into smoking afterwards," said Davis.

As vaping isn't being used as an alternative, it's becoming the gateway for most students.

After Wednesday's meeting, the school board hopes parents can sit down with their children, have those tough conversations, and educate their kids about vaping and the dangers of doing so.

The school board says on average 100 students are being suspended each year over the last three school years.